My life is in ruins. Please help!!

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by Kardashian, Nov 24, 2008.

  1. Kardashian macrumors 68020


    Sep 4, 2005
    I've been low before but this time it's suffocating me - I can't see a way out of this mess.

    I finished a gap year this summer, where I travelled Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, and briefly San Fran.

    I was all set to go to uni this year - and managed to secure a place doing 'Childhood Education' at Birmingham University.

    I have aims of becoming a Primary School teacher - and was assured this was the perfect course for me.

    It's not. So far all I'm learning is the history of education itself, and things related to child psychology and media clippings - nothing to help me deal with a class of 15/20 children. It's nothing I expected it to be - and some parts, in particular, the psychology, are going over my head.

    After 6 weeks I've decided I want to change course.

    The only thing thats really jumped out at me in the University prospectus is American and Canadian studies. I have e-mailed them and asked them, and am awaiting a reply, to see if they will accept me on their course. One of the other programs I asked to be transferred to declined, eventhough:

    • They had space.
    • I've only missed 6 weeks.
    • I have a 6 week holiday coming up which I could use to 'catch-up'.
    • None of the tests/marks you get in your first year count towards your final degree - therefore me losing marks for missing out on 6 weeks worth of work won't matter.

    I'm hoping tomorrow I can get the A&C Studies team to accept me as a student onto the course so that I can start getting my teeth stuck in. However if they don't, and here come's the life-wrecking bit, I'm left in this lovely situation. I owe:

    £1700 Overdraft
    £1100 Tuition Fee's
    £2000 Student Loan (Didn't even cover my accommodation)
    £2500 Remaining 32 weeks accommodation

    £7300 Total for 2 months of university.

    My Halls of Residence will not let me leave/cancel my rent until I find someone to replace my room - there is no one. I've been advertising for 2 weeks in the off chance I need to leave.

    That means my 7 weeks in University works out at costing over £1,000 a week!

    My Dads offered to take care of the £1,700 overdraft for me - bless him. But I'm still left owing over £5,000 - without even having a job. I wanted to leave university, work for maybe 7 months, pay off the £3,000 for tuiton and student loan, and save a bit for travelling, then return to Australia.

    That idea's gone out the window - it's going to take me well over a year to pay all this off.

    The contract for my accommodation didn't even arrive until 3 days before I was moving in. They forgot to allocate me accommodation - therefore I missed the cooling off date, and missed the inspection - surely in court I could challenge that since they screwed up and were late arranging my accommodation, well past the contract ''cooling off'' period, I should be given an extended allowance for the time they wasted to revoke the contract now, and bring it line with the timescale everyone else has?

    I'm hoping I get accepted onto the American Studies course so that I can stay in university and get my degree, otherwise I've just got into more debt that I can handle.

    It's making me feel sick to my stomach - I just want to cry.
  2. yetanotherdave macrumors 68000


    Apr 27, 2007
    Bristol, England
    As you said, it's the first semester. Try talking to 2nd and 3rd year students, see how your course progresses. With most degree subjects, as you get into the 2nd and 3rd years you can pick a lot more what specific areas you study. You may find out that the course becomes more what you were expecting.

    If that doesn't work out, and you do end up leaving uni, what's to stop you continuing to live you your halls. At the very least you wont be losing the money - halls are a cheap place to live, and you'd get to have the uni experience while working.
  3. leekohler macrumors G5


    Dec 22, 2004
    Chicago, Illinois
    Whoa! Two months and you expected to know everything about teaching? That's not the way it works for anything. You're going to have to take some core classes you don't like so much before you get to the meat of what you want to do.

    My advice- calm down and study. You will get to where you want to go, but it will take time. Don't panic just yet.
  4. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004
  5. Kardashian thread starter macrumors 68020


    Sep 4, 2005
    I've spoken to them and my Tutor. It is not hands on like the admissions team told me. Everything is very academically approached. My other friends who are doing a Primary Teaching Degree with QTS spend a great deal of time working directly with children.

    There is one day a week of solid classes that I actually don't understand. I've tried so hard, asked questions and tried to get involved.

    Difference being I'd need to pay my accommodation in a lump sum, I have a £17XX due in January and an £865 in May - and no loan coming in to cover it. I'm never going to have over £1700 available by January without the student loan company.

    I'd still have to pay for transport, food, etc. If I was back home, at least those 2 would be taken care of. I can work and plow maybe £550 a month mininum into paying the five grand off.

    (Don't take that as a "I miss home comforts!" - I don't. I wish I'd never left Australia for this.)

    Thanks, if I do actually leave these were the first people I was going to go visit - along with my Grandad, who's a respected Judge (yes, they exist) and President of another university.

    That might work in my favour if/when challenging this one.

    Sorry Lee, I didn't mean to come across like I knew the inside and out's of teaching. It's after speaking to the lecturer's and students in depth that I know what's in store.

    They don't focus on the teaching itself - more the practice of it. Why teachers do what X, to make children react like Y.

    I wanted to become a teacher - not learn how one works, if that makes sense? I know there's a thin line between the 2 - it's just not what I expected. There's no training, or experience in a real school environment.
  6. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6


    Aug 17, 2007
    Hate to say it, but alot of what you need to know to be a good teacher comes from on-the-job training. When I was studying to be a teacher, I ended up taking very few education classes. Since I was a science education major, most of my classes were science classes. I learned the most about teaching when I did my 2 student teaching classes.

    Its a tough career. Good luck.
  7. prostuff1 macrumors 65816


    Jul 29, 2005
    Don't step into the kawoosh...
    Your expecting far to much for only being in classes for 2 months. Take it from someone who has been taking classes for 4 years and had a girlfriend getting her masters in Education. As far as my classes go i did not start taking the classes i wanted to for almost a full year and a half. Granted I did take some of my CS&E classes my first year but i found them… lacking. And i can tell you that the girlfriend did not start student teaching until she basically started her masters.

    A typical college wants you to be a "well rounded student" which includes you having to take courses you might not like or want to take.

    Just stick with it and it will get better, it almost always does!!
  8. Kardashian thread starter macrumors 68020


    Sep 4, 2005
    It's not a hands-on teaching degree. It won't let me go into a classroom at the end of the day, I'll need to do a PGCE before that.

    This is a Pedagogy course - the practice of teaching methods and why - not how to teach.
  9. prostuff1 macrumors 65816


    Jul 29, 2005
    Don't step into the kawoosh...
    Right and I understand that. But you need that background before you can just jump into the classroom. To understand were to start the teaching, how to lay things out, and what needs to be done in a classroom you need to start at the bottom and work your way up.

    If you really want to get some hands on i suggest volunteering at an after school thing or YMCA type place.
  10. iVeBeenDrinkin' macrumors 65816


    Oct 17, 2008
    Guess you better not order that iPod touch huh?
  11. lacereza macrumors regular

    May 31, 2008
    My advice to you is to finish the semester. Sounds like you'll be paying for it, anyway, so you may as well. Then you'll probably be able to count the courses you've taken towards another degree, one that will suit you better.
  12. samiwas macrumors 68000

    Aug 26, 2006
    Atlanta, GA
    I started school as an engineering major. By near the end of my first year, I had not yet had a single course about engineering. The closest I got was calculus 3, which rove me to the brink of insanity. I had lots of courses about history, literature, science, etc. As was mentioned before, the point of college/university is to give you a well-rounded education in addition to the specific skills tailored to your career.

    No one should be a teacher without knowing some child psychology, and an intro to education (history of education) is obvious! No curriculum is going to bring a first-year student in and start teaching them right away how to deal with a class of children, or have them in classes with children. It's just not practical to start that way. You have to have the background and ideology of the course before getting deep into it.
  13. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location

    You're not learning how to fix a door hinge. Learning about what teachers and psychologists have learnt about children in general, students, teachers, teaching methods, and teacher-student interactions is something that can only help a teacher deal with a child. You seem to just want to get practical experience and learn "on the go". I guess you can do that, but you'd only have a superficial understanding of what it means to be a teacher, and how to do the job. To learn about teaching is probably a bit like learning another language, in that there are both theoretical and practical elements in teaching that you need to understand in order for you to develop into a good teacher. If you only learn one part but not the other, what good are you?

    In fact, you completely misunderstand what university and university learning is for, and why universities teach you in the manner that they do. For someone who wishes to enter the education field, that's pretty scary to hear. If you can't see why your view on university education is "off", I'd say you wouldn't make a very good teacher anyway. Perhaps you were expecting teachers college to be a trade school.

    I've been a university student for 9 years, so my view may be different from yours.
  14. rhsgolfer33 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 6, 2006
    I think you're freaking out a little too much. At the small liberal arts college I go to if you are an Education/Liberal Studies (Elementary School Teaching) major you probably won't even see a classroom in which you are teaching or helping until your 4th or 5th year as a student teacher. Most of the classes you take are history, english and english literature, art, physical education, math, and science. They also have courses such as "Social and Culture Foundations in Education, Students With Diverse Learning Needs, Career Decisions in Education, Microcomputers in Education, and Child And Adolescent Development." Most of the courses aren't even in the Education department; its more like a major in general ed. I think of the 90 required semester units only 17 are actually in the Education department, the program also generally takes 5 years including student teaching and credentials.

    I'd wait it out for at least the term and see what courses are available in the future, I'm sure there are more "hands on" courses in the future. You have to realize that teaching isn't just about throwing you in the classroom with some vague knowledge about what to do. In college you'll learn all kinds of boring theories you'll never remember, but you'll also acquire a lot of material and skills you will likely use in teaching a class, even if it just seems like boring, non-hands on material right now. However boring, child development and learning theories are important as an educator. There are good and bad, useful and not so useful classes in college, you just have to suffer through them on your way to your ultimate goal.
  15. angelneo macrumors 68000

    Jun 13, 2004
    Not to be mean or anything, but if you cannot handle your situation now in a calm and clear manner, how are you going to deal with kids and teenagers especially those troubled youths?
  16. Mord macrumors G4


    Aug 24, 2003
    You need to learn the why before you can learn how.
  17. Kardashian thread starter macrumors 68020


    Sep 4, 2005
    Not to be mean or anything, but I'm being honest. I'm freaking out because there is an aspect of my course, or rather 1/3 of it, which is going completely over my head. When I'm spending so much money - that's a little scary. And if I truly have made a mistake, the fact its going to cost so much money is scaring me.

    I'm not complaining about the course itself - that's just a factor. Yes, it's different to what I imagined. What I imagined was not some idea that I'd created in my head, it was an idea put in my head by other lesser academic, but still highly classed universities, over the past 2 years. Most Primary Education degree's are more hands on, and don't involve so much history.

    My possible dealing's with troubled youth's and children are my exact point regarding this mess - what about them? So far, I've learnt nothing about them - and according to the course tutor - I won't.

    And for the record, I think I have conducted myself in a clean manner.

    OK, its not so much the course itself thats the problem. Its the fact I don't understand a big part of it.

    Yes, I'm annoyed its not what they made it out to be. Yes, I'm annoyed its not like the other courses I had was accepted onto - but they're all underlying factors.

    My main issue is: I can't do this - I'm being honest with myself.

    Now what?

    I have an interview tomorrow to change course - and they're making an extreme exception - if that goes well, I'm fine.

    I understand that. I appreciate your reply but there's no need to state the obvious. It just comes across slightly sarcastic. Sorry if it's not, Abstract.

    I completely agree with what you're first statement is. Of course the more knowledge of a child, the better. But, my point is - there is no practical activity on the course at all. It's not that I want to jump in totally head first - it's that there will be no jumping - at all. The course is 3 years of academic based research. No experience in schools, no experience with children. I wanted a balanced course, and I was told this was one. All the other universities I was accepted to had practical sessions from the second year onwards, and in the first year began with Child Development - not about the history of schooling in Britain and how it was set up etc. I guess depending on your field, that can be relevant information but to your bog standard Primary Ed. teacher, I don't think it is.

    No, I don't. Maybe I've misunderstood this universities teaching - but not all. Seven other schools teach practical methods in their second and third years and begin with and teaching practices in the first. Before making such a definite statement, research the British universities offering Primary Ed first, like I have.

    My view on education isn't off - my view regarding this course is 'off'.

    Thanks for certifying me as being unsuitable for teaching, though.

    And again, what I was expecting a teaching course, not college, to be like was based on idea's from seven other schools - as well as this one.
  18. timmyb macrumors 6502

    Feb 2, 2005
    United Kingdom
    That's what the PGCE is for.

    As others have mentioned the reason for going to uni is to get a well rounded education that will shape how you respond to future challenges. Teaching is arguably the most important profession in any society so the fact it will take you 4 years to get there isn't too bad! It will be tough at times but having a proper academic degree will help greatly in the future - both inside and outside of the classroom.
  19. Kardashian thread starter macrumors 68020


    Sep 4, 2005

    OK, the teaching course is done and dusted. I won't be returning to those classes, even if they get James Franco to lecture them nude. OK, if they do that, but until that happens, no.

    I e-mailed the Sociology department, regarding a transfer. Flat-out 'No'.

    I have been e-mailing back and forth with the head of American and Canadian studies since yesterday. Whilst she acknowledged the fact that 6 weeks into a semester is a bit late to change - she didn't say no and has scheduled me a meeting for tomorrow.

    If she hasn't said no, I'm guessing there is a possibility, she's just covering her own back. She's asking for my grades for A-Level etc.

    Hopefully tomorrow it'll work out :)
  20. timmyb macrumors 6502

    Feb 2, 2005
    United Kingdom
    Just to add...

    If you are desperate to get some experience now then take a look at this. One of my housemates at uni did it while she was an undergrad (studying English,) went on to do a PGCE and is now teaching.
  21. SpaceMagic macrumors 68000


    Oct 26, 2003
    Cardiff, Wales
    After 7 weeks of my first year of Uni I was distraught. I had just committed myself to four years at university and coming from a family in which everyone went to uni, it wasn't as if I could drop out. My parents had invested quite a bit in letting me go.

    I stuck with it. And sure there were very low times in the first year. But now, in my final year, I've found areas of my degree I really enjoy and I concentrate on them. At the end of the day, 3 years is also time to grow up as well as learn.

    Saying that, if you really are convinced you want to change, changing within universities is usually really easy. It is here at Bath and could be done quite far into the first year.
  22. Lau Guest

    For starters, don't panic! The first thing to do is to wait and see what they say about letting you on the American Studies Course, and worry about it if you don't.

    For as long as you're on this course, you're safe in halls and you'll keep getting your loan, so stay registered on it until you're sure you want to leave. It's surprisingly difficult to get kicked off a university course, so hang in there for now.

    I think some people have got the wrong end of the stick here. If I'm reading your post correctly, there are other teaching courses at other universities that suit you better, right? This is as if (to take an example) you've signed up for an Art History course when you wanted to take a practical art course, yes?

    Are you sure that this American/Canadian studies is what you really want to do? If your dream is to become a primary school teacher, is that going to be helpful? Don't just take a different course that isn't going to really help you because it's one at the same university and that's easier if it isn't something you're going to be interested in, as if you don't like it, they're very unlikely to let you make another change.

    Having said that, if you were intending to do a PGCE on the course you're currently on, could you then just do one after the American/Canadian studies and then be no worse off, except you'd have done a degree you enjoyed? You could still, presumably, be a primary school teacher with a PGCE after that.

    The other option is to try and get on another teaching course at another university. If I remember rightly, some people transferred really quickly to other courses, but I think six weeks is too long to do that, but the other way of doing it is to see if completing a longer and more measurable period on this course (a term, a semester or a year) and then transfer to another more practical teaching course at another university and go straight into their second semester or year. You would have to check you could do this now (rather than waste time doing it and finding they won't let you), but I think that could save you a year as you wouldn't need a PGCE on a more practical course for primary level teaching (I think?).

    That is quite a complicated and long winded way of doing it though, and if you think you can commit to the course, the American studies followed by a PGCE sounds like your best bet.

    The important thing is to stay calm, though – your life isn't ruined! The worst case scenario is that you leave and then the only cost you really need to worry about is the halls one – the loan you have to pay back so slowly and in such small increments you'll be fine, and as soon as you get a job (if you were to leave) you'll pay back the overdraft pretty quickly (and it'll stay interest free for at least a year). They must have something in place for people who leave university as well regarding the halls – if you can't pay it you can't pay it. Again, worry about this when it comes to it.

    Stay calm, and be helpful and reasonable to the tutors and university admin – they're far more likely to help out a reasonable student (and want one on their course) than one getting frustrated with them. They're doing you a favour so the better you come across with them, the more likely they are to go the extra mile and you are to get where you want to be. Good luck for tomorrow!
  23. Kardashian thread starter macrumors 68020


    Sep 4, 2005
    Totally right.

    It's not getting kicked off that's worrying me, it's "Oh Lord, this course is not what I wanted, I'm going to fail!"


    Perfect. Lau, you're a credit to the human race. Love love your posts.

    It's something I wanted to do originally just as much as teaching. I settled on this because I was the first person from my immediate family going to university and was [I don't want to say pressured but..] coaxed into making a more 'grown up' choice.

    I'd have the overdraft paid off straight away. That way, if my accommodation needed paying, they could just take it out of my newly-available £1,700 overdraft. When I get my first pay packet, that would probably clear about £1,000 of my overdraft - of which I'd pay the Student Loans Co. around £600. I'd want to get it paid off as soon as possible.

    Maybe 5 months, tops. So basically, £1000 a month.

    For now, I'm staying calm[er]. Me and the lady from A&C Studies have been e-mailing and the first e-mail was "You need to come and see me to discuss this matter as soon as possible.Unfortunately, this is rather late in the Semester to make this request. I have an office hour tomorrow from 1.00 - 2.00 (Room 408, Arts Building). Can you come along then?

    Which, isn't totally positive - but it's not a flat out no, and she wouldn't call me in to tell me flat out no.

    After that I had...

    "This is only an initial meeting to discuss the possibility of a transfer and does not mean that we have agreed, or will agree, to this move. I will be happy to meet with you and see what can be done but you need to be aware that this is only a consideration of this matter at this point.

    Please email the subjects of your A Levels and your grades.

    See you tomorrow.



    I hope this works out. I've been nothing but direct, polite, and confident. I've made clear my desire to work, and my dedication to the course. Hopefully they'll sort me out. I doubt they'd invite me in to say no - they understand failing this course I'd have to leave.

    Thanks so much Lau, you're lovely :) I really appreciate someone taking the time to read through all these lengthy, boring posts and reply with something. relevant.
  24. Schtumple macrumors 601


    Jun 13, 2007
    I was tempted to switch out of my course during the first 4 weeks as it was constant theory, when the course description clearly stated it would be a large percentage of practical, however, we're now moving onto practical, and it's getting interesting, they have to make sure you know what you're talking about before you can go off and do anything, think of it as a driving test (theory based work about the history etc of education), you have to take it before you can drive (begin to do practical on teaching styles, roles etc).

    However, if you feel there is another course that suits you better, go for it, it's only uni, you can and will be able to pay the loans off at a later date, so don't panic so much, listen to some Zero 7 or something.
  25. Lau Guest

    Thanks for the kind words. :D

    If this is what you originally wanted to do, then that coupled with a PGCE later if you wanted sounds ideal. Hopefully you'll get good news. Is there any way you can demonstrate an interest in the subject from something you've done in the past and make it clear that it's what you've really wanted to do and only did the teaching one as a more sensible choice? She'll be looking for someone who really is interested in it and not just jumping ship to another course that'll have them (because they see a lot of that).

    Read up on the syllabus today so you know what the course entails and can talk about it, what you would be really interested in, and so on. Ask what you can do to make the work up. Basically, knock her socks off in the interview!

    What I was meaning about the getting kicked off thing is that you keep getting funding for as long as you're on the course, so don't make any rash decisions about leaving yet while you've still got somewhere to live and money coming in.

    Moneywise, really don't worry about the student loan. I know it's tempting to clear it, but I've never paid back more than about £15-20 a month of mine in any job I've had. And I have nearly £20,000 borrowed! It's not something that's held against you for credit or anything, and nearly everyone has one. Clear the overdraft, any credit cards, get yourself financially on your feet, even buy a house before you worry about that. I look at it more like an extra tax each month than a loan I'm paying off and I've got no intentions to make a big payment on it or clear it, it's not worth it (in my opinion, anyway).

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